As Mother's Day approaches, Susan Rose and her volunteers are delivering exquisitely prepared gift baskets across South Jersey and in Philadelphia.

The Mothers Matter program has distributed a total of 25,000 baskets since 2001, says Rose, an old friend of mine whose daughter Lauren's accidental death inspired the annual Mother's Day effort, as well as the foundation that bears her name.

The baskets contain a colorful variety of donated personal care, cosmetics and gift items. They are filled and wrapped at the foundation's headquarters in Washington Township, and handed out during the week before Mother's Day.

Recipients include children in daycare centers (as a present to their mothers), as well as needy women in homeless shelters and other human services facilities. The all-volunteer delivery squad includes members of the Saints and Sinners Motorcycle Club.

"The essence of the program is that a beautiful Mother's Day gift, prepared with care and love, is put in deserving hands," says Rose, who lives in Cherry Hill.

The effort has not gone unnoticed: On June 14, Rose will be honored for "volunteer leadership" at the annual ceremony of the New Jersey State Governor's Jefferson Awards.

--KEVIN RIORDAN